If anime had a style period Monster would fit in somewhere between realism and romantism. In fact I feel wrong calling Monster an anime, it has no humor, it's not fun, has no fanservice, no badassery, no overblown romance and it's school life free. The story is told slowly, minding evrery detail and it mostly consists of detective work regardles if it's actual detectives doing their job or the protagonists simply investigating. Pieces of the puzzle slowly start to take their place, and interpretations of certain facts begin to change. It is also told on many levels as many different characters try to find out the truth about Johan so characters often do wrong things because they don’t know what the others are doing and the truth passes right under their noses. Also the story isn’t centered around just one person, everyone has a story of his own, even some side characters. The best part of the story is its complexity and mysteriousness and as mentioned before, an almost real life description of how investigations are done. The bad part is its length. Don’t get me wrong the story isn’t actually too long its just told in too many episodes that are stretched for some reason. I also didn’t like how it ends. I just kind of felt disappointed for watching 74 episodes and not seeing an epic conclusion. But that is just my opinion so don’t take it too seriously, perhaps some of you might like it.
The anime isn’t exactly new so that’s a minus right there. I noticed that it’s overall very dark, using a lot of grey and those rare happy moments in the anime are somewhat spoiled by lack of color variety. There have been a few attempts to show the sun rising and setting but in my opinion, they fail miserably. The faces are realistic, distinguishable, but unfortunately incredibly static. Even though emotions are shown very nicely on their faces, they lack any actual body movement. On the other hand I have to praise it, the backgrounds are also very realistic, recreating real places and well known architecture from many cities and so are the countryside and the weather.
For starters there was only one opening and only two endings on a 74 episodes long anime. All of them are good though. The soundtrack during the actual anime was great, it was at times unnoticable, and at times sort of epic. It showed the emotional states of the caracters, so the name of the game was to make it fitting. Just like the animation, the non-musical elements of the sound like the wind, the cars passing by and the gunshots were realistic.
The most important thing I noticed about the characters is that all of them are extremly strong willed and never choose to look the other way. They recive a solid amount of character development and backstory early on, but after their strong will prevented them to advance any further, or maybe its better to say prevents them from degrading, as their morals is on a high level. They don’t simply choose not to do bad things, but also help people who did bad things in their past, believing they can change. The side characters are also well executed, they are not shallow and most of them have interesting backstories, some of which actually become important for the story. The antagonists have solid reasons for their actions and sometimes even reflect on them.
While Monster is one of the best series out there it is not something I would recommend to everyone, it is a long and hard to watch. A major part of it is perfect, but you will (or at least I got) bored at times. Imagine if Serial Experiments Lain was 74 episodes long. If it were fifty episodes long this would be the best anime ever, this way it is “only” very good.